We have used the budget app, EveryDollar, from Dave Ramsey and it is great! The app is FREE and it is easy to use. We will use that on our thru hike but because our timeline is so long and we have to be able to see what we need for our trip as a whole, we created a budget excel sheet.
Based on our research, we estimate we will be on the trail, with our dog Sammy, for 139 days excluding injury, weather or sickness. We plan to backpack:
8 miles/day for week 1
9 miles/day for week 2
10 miles/day for week 3
11 miles/day for week 4
12 miles/day for week 5
Our goal will be to go 12 miles per day max in order to prevent injury for Sammy and ourselves. We are starting in Georgia at Amicalola Falls State Park (Spring Mountain) and going north bound (NOBO) to Baxter State Park (Mount Katahdin).
There are so many factors to consider when planning a six month trip so we have done our best to put a budget together that is as thorough as possible so we don't come up short. The top two reasons thru hikers drop out are due to injury and finances.
When we initially put our budget together for two adults and two dogs it was over $12,000. With that coming in WAY over what we thought it would be (around $6k-$8k) we had to come up with some ways to decrease the budget. And we did more research so we had more accurate numbers for actual costs on the trail (hostels, showers, permits, etc). We also wanted to reach out for sponsorship to different outdoor companies for either discount, product or financial assistance, if possible. In addition, after further research we decided to leave our four year old Labrador, Pippie, at home due to her size and higher risk of injury. Sammy is only about 35 pounds so if something happened to him we could carry him out. Where with Pippie she is almost 60 pounds. But also by bringing only one dog we decreased the cost of boarding by half and saved about $800 not including food, gear or tick prevention.
The biggest cost categories for our budget are food and health/medical. We were able to decrease our food budget from $2,500 to around $1,500 due to food sponsorship with companies and being part of the Influencer Team with Mountain House! We will be going with World Nomad for our travel insurance because they had the best rates for what kind of coverage we were looking for. In addition, we only have a couple medical prescriptions we need and by using the GoodRx app we are able to save a significant price on medicine and lower our medical costs by using the app. It is essentially coupons that the app shows you pharmacies in your area for the prescription you need.
As mentioned earlier, the two biggest reasons people don’t complete the thru hike is injury or finances. We are trying to prepare ourselves for a successful and complete thru hike. One way we have done that is to have a separate emergency fund available if we have any injuries. Also our budget is “worse case scenario” so we are over budgeting. We aren’t planning on staying at any of the shelters because of Sammy so we decided to buy the Kelty TN2 2 person backpacking tent, about 4.4 pounds instead of bringing our three person Kelty tent that is over 8 pounds.
Gear is such a huge factor on this trip and we have been backpacking for a number of years now so we feel good about what we currently own in regards to durability and weight. We are trying to see if we can do without a few items so we don’t have to spend a ton of money on new gear. In addition, our goal is for the weight of our packs, before adding food and water, to be about 10-12 pounds. We will resupply with food and swap out seasonal gear when we need to along the trail.
There are about 25 towns along the way where we plan to use the post offices. We can mail out packages by using the flat rate boxes (free boxes) with the USPS for $14.95/box and then mail them to the post offices in the towns we will be in. They hold the boxes up to a certain number of months. Jake’s mom will be supporting us by sending us our pre-made resupply boxes and holding our mail for us! By using the flat rate boxes it doesn’t matter the weight of the box; you can cram as much stuff as you are able to and then mail it out! We will prep the boxes ourselves with our food and Sammy’s food. But we don’t know what we will need until we are on the trail in regards to seasonal gear. So we will have all of our additional gear labeled and organized so Patti can easily grab what we need and add it to the box before mailing it. There are items that we don’t know if or when we will need them so we will just buy them in town when needed. So we added a spot in our budget for cash as well.
Here is what we have for our budget thus far. We know we have under budgeted in some areas and over budgeted in others. Also, there are trail angles that help hikers out periodically but we would rather have some money left over by the time we are done than be strapped for cash.
We have ordered the Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker Companion (2019) book that details the trail, towns, mileage, shelters, etc. Each year they update the book based on what has changed along the trail. We pre-ordered the book and can’t wait to receive it so we can start reading it!
Still no trail names chosen!
Blog post written by:
Amy and Jacob Karras
For the love of travel and new adventures, we live our lives for the next dream fulfilled!